Around The Region

November 26, 2009

Catonsville welcome sign is missing from its post

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The eye-catching wooden sign that graced the entrance to Catonsville for about 15 years has disappeared from its post on a stone wall, and area residents have offered a $300 reward for its return. The colorful welcome, similar to the sign that hangs near the Catonsville Post Office, has greeted motorists and pedestrians to Frederick Road, the area's main street. It features an image of a Colonial house and a horse-drawn trolley atop "Catonsville" in bold letters. A poster that says in large red letters, "We want our sign back," has replaced it on the stone wall. "I think our sign is probably in the dorm room of some unnamed college nearby," said Jim Himel, vice president of the Catonsville Heritage Foundation. "This is a student prank kind of thing. It is a really nice sign, and I hope we get it back."

- Mary Gail Hare

State Farm to investigate allegations of harassment

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A day after two Baltimore County women sued their supervisor, a State Farm insurance agent, and State Farm Annuity and Life Insurance Co. on grounds of sexual harassment, assault and defamation, a company representative said Wednesday that it would investigate the allegations. Jen Alvarez, a State Farm spokeswoman in Virginia, said that company officials had not had an opportunity to study the filing, and she would not discuss personnel issues. "What we can tell you is that we take any allegations of this nature seriously and will be thoroughly investigating the matter," Alvarez said. The two women, Kristi Mitchell and Veronica Cobb, are seeking at least $4 million in punitive damages in Baltimore County Circuit Court from their supervisor, Obie Sorrell, and State Farm. They say that Sorrell repeatedly subjected them to sexual taunts, crass language, suggestive physical contact and a hostile work environment in their Randallstown office. Sorrell did not respond to requests for comment.

- Nick Madigan

Radiator pipe ruptures, floods 14 units at housing complex

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A radiator pipe on the 13th floor of a West Baltimore public housing complex ruptured Tuesday night, causing water and electrical damage that left 14 units flooded and shut down both elevators, according to housing and fire officials. Emergency medical personnel were called to McCulloh Homes about 10 p.m. to help escort residents out of the damaged apartments, fire officials said. A spokeswoman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City said three residents were taken to a hotel, while others stayed in vacant units or with relatives. A few decided to remain in their apartments, according to Cheron Porter, the spokeswoman. The elevators remained inoperable as of Wednesday morning, according to Porter, but she said repair work on the plumbing and heating had begun.

- Brent Jones

U.S. funding sought for health, service hot line

Federal and state leaders are launching an effort to win funding for a statewide hot line to help connect Marylanders with health and human service. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski has requested $800,000 to make the state's 211 hot line pilot program permanent and is co-sponsoring a bill that would provide dedicated funding for such services nationwide. Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and United Way of Central Maryland President Larry Walton joined Mikulski to announce the effort to secure federal funding at the call center in Baltimore on Monday. The 24-hour hot line with call centers at four locations around the state offers assistance to callers in more than 150 languages. Employees offer information and referrals for mental health services, caring for aging parents and help for people who have lost their homes or jobs.

- Associated Press

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